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Public confidence shaken by political revelations

Theresa May has expressed confidence in her secretary of state for Northern Ireland, despite Karen Bradley's jaw-dropping admission that she was not aware nationalists did not vote for unionists or vice versa.

However, the question is more whether the public here can have confidence in Mrs Bradley given her shocking lack of insight prior to taking up one of the most sensitive and difficult roles in government.

Or indeed have confidence in Mrs May's judgment in selecting someone who did not have even the most basic understanding of Northern Ireland politics before she was appointed to replace James Brokenshire - who had to step down due to ill health - at a time when the Stormont administration was in deep crisis and on the point of collapse.

It should be remembered that before arriving in the north, Mrs Bradley was a member of the cabinet, which raises questions about the level of discussions that must have taken place around the table in Downing Street.

It certainly suggests that Northern Ireland and its myriad problems featured none too often or in any detail.

What will be particularly worrying for many people is that the secretary of state, and even the prime minister, will be attempting to fill any gaps in their knowledge through their confidence and supply partners, the DUP.

That would be an issue of serious concern, not least given the significant questions that exist around Arlene Foster's judgment and the unedifying conduct of her party while in the executive.

In a week that heard quite astonishing revelations about the DUP in the RHI inquiry, we also finally saw UDA man Dee Stitt stand down as chief executive of Charter NI.

Mrs Foster was very unwise to be pictured should to shoulder with Stitt and to not demand his resignation after the infamous film showing him bragging about 'homeland security' in north Down.

Good judgment is an invaluable quality in a politician. Lack of it can create all sorts of difficulties, as we well know in Northern Ireland.

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